"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly."  - Buddha

With a saying like that, one would want to know if the wellness of the mind which is the emotional health we are referring to is equally as important as the physical health.

The answer is pretty much simple, and I'll be discussing it further in this blog... read on.

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For several years conventional medicine made us believe that our genetics are the primary cause of our physical health. In the early 90s, however, scientific research found that our emotions play at least an equal or possibly even a greater role in determining what our health status is or will be in the near future.

You'll definitely agree with me that stress can lead to physical symptoms such as fast breathing, headache, increased heartbeat, tight muscles, back pain, stiff neck, and shoulders. Over time these emotionally triggered symptoms can affect your immune system, muscles, heart and blood vessels, and your skin. It can also aggravate to stomach problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers, and exacerbate respiratory symptoms such as asthma, just to name some.

Are you still wondering if emotional health is equally important?

Or maybe you're wondering... how does this happen?

Your thoughts can trigger what is known as the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to the 'fight or flight' response which then stimulates the release of chemicals such as adrenalin and cortisol. These two chemicals are responsible for the physical symptoms that are associated with stress.

Let’s look at more reasons why emotional health is equally important to physical health:

1. Emotional Health Affects Productivity and Financial Stability

According to a report by the World Health Organization, an estimated 200 million workdays are lost each year due to depression alone.

Another study by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health states that people who struggle with depression and anxiety are more likely to take sick leave repeatedly and for longer periods of time (90 days and above).

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The fact is individuals with untreated emotional problems may face significant economic struggles which in most cases they end up foreclosing on their homes or declaring bankruptcy and all.

2. Better Physical Health

Emotional and physical health are two sides of the same coin. There is a strong connection between the mind and body. For instance, if you're having emotional instabilities or problems, your work and family life may be affected, and you may not be able to do the activities you once enjoyed. That will, in fact, lead to stress, more anxiety, and depression.

When an individual is struggling with both emotional and physical problems, doctors typically focus solely on the physical complaints, and the cycle of illness tends to continue. However, when the emotional health problem gets addressed, many patients report improvements in their physical health. For instance, a study revealed that the treatment of depression in arthritis patients resulted in reduced pain and better overall health.

3. Affecting Family Members

Emotional problems affect family relations. The children of people with emotional problems are at greater risk of abuse, neglect, and a wide range of behavioral issues. Since these kids can't look at their unstable parents for help, they often isolate themselves from friends, and most of them do not receive needed social support. Worse of all is that most of the effects are carried over into adulthood.

Loved ones and other family members are likewise affected as they usually end up reporting about financial strain, job loss, and other behavioral issues. This is why it is recommended that recovery should be undertaken by the entire family so that they can all learn new skills to cope and deal with the situation.

4. Living a Longer and Happier Life

According to research, people with the highest levels of anxiety or depression had a risk of death that increased to about 94% most often related to heart disease.

Now, even if you're able to work effectively, fulfill your family responsibilities and also find a way to function in your daily life, having emotional and behavioral problems can have serious consequences. What you must understand is, if you do not attend to your emotional needs, your quality of life suffers, your relationships suffer, your work suffers and your physical health also suffers.

Our emotional health is easily taken for granted basically because it is not like a broken arm or a sudden heart attack. In many cases, people don't recognize their emotional problems even after they manifest as physical symptoms, but YOU now know better.

Common emotional health problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression often show up as physical health problems such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, stomach aches, changes in appetite, heartburn, heart palpitations, or trouble sleeping.

Most times we try to deny our emotional problems sinking in the stigma that makes it hard for many individuals to acknowledge and seek help for these issues. We even have a hard time accepting our own emotional pain, fearing it’s a weakness, and as a result, we push it down, get ourselves drown in unhealthy food, alcoholic drinks, drugs, or other compulsions.

So are you still wondering why you should prioritize your emotional health? Here's my answer, because caring for your mind as well as your body means you'll not just live longer but better.

For more information or to schedule an appointment online, visit our Depression and Anxiety Counseling page or call 919-647-4600.

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